Objectives Laboratory-based utilization management programs typically rely primarily on data derived from the laboratory information system to analyze testing volumes for trends and utilization concerns. We wished to examine the ability of an electronic health record (EHR) laboratory orders database to improve a laboratory utilization program. Methods We obtained a daily file from our EHR containing data related to laboratory test ordering. We then used an automated process to import this file into a database to facilitate self-service queries and analysis. Results The EHR laboratory orders database has proven to be an important addition to our utilization management program. We provide three representative examples of how the EHR laboratory orders database has been used to address common utilization issues. We demonstrate that analysis of EHR laboratory orders data has been able to provide unique insights that cannot be obtained by review of laboratory information system data alone. Further, we provide recommendations on key EHR data fields of importance to laboratory utilization efforts. Conclusion We demonstrate that an EHR laboratory orders database may be a useful tool in the monitoring and optimization of laboratory testing. We recommend that health care systems develop and maintain a database of EHR laboratory orders data and integrate this data with their laboratory utilization programs.
- data analysis
- laboratory information systems
- monitoring and surveillance
- order entry